Birka and Uppsala

Before leaving Stockholm, I traveled for two hours via boat to the World Heritage site Birka.  Birka is one of the places on my trip that I was adamant to visit.  This island to the west of Stockholm was an important trading center for the Vikings, which handled goods from Scandinavia as well as Central and Eastern Europe and the Orient. During the tour we learned that Vikings were not all the raiders that we so often associate with Vikings. Per the Swedish tour guide, the more vicious Vikings were Danish. From various comments I learned there is still a friendly feud between the Swedes and the Danes.  The Vikings also did not have horns on their helmets.

The island has many Viking burial mounds.  The mounds were used before Vikings became Christians and changed their practices to burying people in a more traditional cemetery.  The mounds are interesting in that you can tell the importance of a person by the size of the mound.  Things that looked like rocks to me were actually markers for the mounds.  Women mounds were marked by  round rocks.



After leaving Stockholm, I drove to Uppsala, just north of Stockholm by about an hour.  Uppsala is home to the Carl Linnaeus, one of the most important scientists ever, who was professor of medicine at Uppsala University in the 18th century. It was at the Linnaeus Gardens that was hoping to learn about native Swedish plants.  I visited 13th century Uppsala Cathedral for Gothic architecture, priceless relics and treasures, and the Uppsala Museum to learn more about Swedish history and culture. I stayed at an Air BnB and met a lovely lady who took me to a “loppis” which I learned literally means flea, so we visited a flea market.

Carl Linnaeus

At the Carl Linnaeus Museum I learned not only about plants, I saw a new way of showing visitors the museum. As one might expect, many languages are spoken by visitors at the museum.  When I checked in, they asked me what language I needed, then gave me a small laser light.  When I visited each room, I could point the light at a spot and hear the interpretation for the room in my headset.  Parts of the gardens were being used for a wedding, which added even more to the beautiful of them.  At the gift shop I purchased one package of seeds of each variety.  Since they were packaged, I felt I could take them home, only to find out in Minneapolis, I could not.  What plants are ok for use on the Peterson farm?  Definitely peonies, irises, lilacs, rhubarb and a lot more that I wouldn’t have felt would be appropriate.


Uppsala Cathedral

The Uppsala Cathedral is very impressive.  There are crypts around the edges of the buildings where wealthy benefactors and royalty are buried.  Just when I thought I had seen an impressive stature or painting or a person I recognized I came to another more impressive crypt or more powerful person.

Uppsala Slott (castle)

The Uppsala Slott is opposite the Cathedral.  The photo below shows the Cathedral view from the castle.  The castle now houses a museum which was filled with artwork, and a traveling display.  The large lower photo shows the bell tower.

Uppsala Museum

The Uppsala Museum is a treasure.  The history in the museum alone was worth the visit, but they had a traveling tattoo display which was wonderful.  One exhibit piece in the main museum particularly caught my attention.  It was a door, shown bottom left, from a prison.  The man in prison had carved the following in the door.  Roughly in English it says, ” On February 9, 1631 I came to this place.  On September 28, 1631 I died. 20170526_145318


Loppis and Urilka

Urlika (below top left) was my host at the air BnB in Uppsala.  She took me to a loppis where I purchased THREE dala horses for about $30.  One of them would have cost me at least that much in a store, if not more.  The lady top right, was selling linen to raise funds for a children’s orphanage in Africa.  After I bought the linen and left, I came back and had the picture taken.  She then gave me a small packet of matches as a thank you.

For those not familiar with an air BnB, it is the home of a person who agrees to rent out a room to people.  The people I met on this trip really made it.  To Urlika and the lady who sold me the linen.  Thank you so much.

Next time: North I go to Dalsbo and even more wonderful people, who now call me part of their family.

I’m home! AND the State of MN awards us $160,000 for the Peterson farm restoration

I’m home!   What a trip.  Now it is time to bring everyone up to speed on the things seen, and learned.  First, I want to note that after the first posting I realized, that that NOT having spell check is really, bad for a person who is challenged from a spelling perspective and that typing on a tablet is really rough.   The positive is that over the next few weeks I will be posting about the trip, just a month later than when it happened.

It seems like I missed spring while I was gone.  The peonies and irises at my house bloomed and died, and I came home to summer heat.  The State of Minnesota voted on its final budget.  State Representative Jim Nash went to bat for us wrote a bill asking for funds for the Peterson farm.  I was called in and presented to the State Legacy committee. When I came home, I learned that the State passed the bill and we were awarded $160,000 for restoration work at the farm.  With the state commitment, it will qualify us for the Jeffris match.  That means we have a good $240,00 start to our capitol fundraising.  Note: we cannot spend the funds until after the fundraising is complete.

Now for the trip.

After my daughter Virginia, her husband Dave, and my son Dain left for home, I started my studies with a trip to visit Lena A:son-Palmqvist at the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm. Lena is the Avdelningschef, Kunskap och förmedling, or in English, the Department Head for Meditation and Knowledge, which believe is is close to the Education Department Head, in the U.S.  As I learned, some things just don’t translate exactly.  Some funny stories on that, to come.

Lena did her PhD thesis on Swedish farm buildings and properties in Minnesota. So we had a lot to talk about.  I asked about “korn” and what Peterson meant when he said he “painted” the roof of the barn.  She said korn was not American corn but rather Peterson most likely meant barley. While traveling Sweden, I learned the word korn as found in Peterson’s diaries is more correctly translated as a kernel of grain. If American corn is meant he would use the word maize.  During his Swenglish period, he uses both English and Swedish words at the same time- hence Swenglish.  So in some passages, as in 1859 he talks about korn- meaning barley- then talks about planing korn in mounds, which is a method not done with barley- only American corn.

Lena and I discussed what Peterson meant when he said he painted the roof of the barn.  With what?  She said it was tar, used to make it water proof.

Our conversation lasted a couple of hours.  I was able to find and purchase her thesis, “Building Traditions Among Swedish Settlers in Rural Minnesota” on Amazon and ordered it to be delivered to the CCHS.  She also suggested I purchase “Scandinavia Overseas” and “America’s Architectural Roots” which I did via Amazon and also had delivered directly to the CCHS.  Following our visit I toured Skansen.


Below, left is a photo of the Nordic Museum and on the right is Skansen.

Skansen if not the oldest, is one of the oldest open air museums in the world.  It is in the same vicinity as the Nordic Museum and the Vasa Museum.  For those who have asked if I visited Vasa on this trip, I did not, as I had visited before and because with a limited time, I needed to focus on building structures.

The two areas in Skansen I focused on were the sections about southern Sweden buildings and farm animals.


Knowing we would be putting up fences, I took a number of photos of fences and in the Smaland area. I found a 1900-1910 house that had the same type of ceiling found in the Peterson house.   The knowledge that the ceiling in the house may be not as early as we thought was of concern, as if we interpret the property to 1885 to coincide with the photos taken at the farm, the ceiling in the house would have to be removed.  Note the color of the ceiling and the wall paper.


The below bench was of interest, as it is a style used both in Sweden and is seen here in the U.S.  This makes the style a possibility for use at the farm.


Finally, I want to leave you today with a beautiful photo of a house at Skansen representative of a house in Smaland.  Note the thatched roof with wooden logs holding it down.  The windows are white but the corners are not.  Which was a quandary for us when deciding how to paint the north barn.  The question of to paint the barn corners or not was confirmed by Lena at the Nordic Museum.  She explained the painting as follows.


The Falun Copper mines produce the mineral that makes the Swedish red unique.  Once all buildings were completely red.  Red paint was cheap, white was expensive.  Therefore, only accents on houses, such as windows and corners were white.  Then, more wealthy people started accenting the windows in the barn white and the population followed suit.  Next, the wealthy class painted their houses yellow and some people followed suit.  Today, you will find barn doors painted with tar resulting in a black color.  Most barn corners are not white.  White barn corners are more of an American invention.  As we discussed, the option to paint the Peterson north barn corner white or not, we looked closely at the barn wood.  It was indeed originally red, later the white trim was added.  So, I present to you, a fully restored first time ever published photo of the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead north barn!!

finished north barn

Ok, you have to click on the link.  Some time technology really, is not up to par, or the user still can’t figure out how to get a photo off her phone.  But, you can click on the link above and see the photo.  Once, the technology of moving a photo is mastered, I’ll get the photo posted,  honest.

Next time:  Birka, and Uppsala


A couple of photos


I have finally figured out how to add a couple of photos.  My daughter Virginia booked a wonderful Air B&B in old Stockholm.  The below photo was taken from the top of the building we stayed in, at sunset.


The below photo is from left to right, Galina Sonnergren, my son Dain, me, my son-in-law Dave, and my daughter Virginia.  The photo was taken in St. Petersburg


A photo of Lars during fika in St. Petersburg. Note the bread beverage.  It tasted like yeast, but was not alcoholic.


The Nordic Museum in Stockholm.


Below: Lena Palmqvist, Head of Department, and myself at the Nordic museum. We discussed her studies of Swedish farms in Minnesota.  The discussion was very helpful to determining the time frame for Peterson and determining when he started using American techniques, and methods.  Despite a long tiring week, and looking as tired as I felt, the conversation and information gleened was fabulous, and the time given me, greatly appreciate.  She suggested several books, which I was able to purchase on line from Amazon, and have sent directly to the musuem.  She also gave me two books, one I took with and the other she would be mailing to me.  All the books disuss construction of the farm buildings.

Next time, photos of Skansen!

From Uppsala, my best,



Week one

About a year ago, I received the Lilly Lorenzen scholorship from the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis to travel to Sweden to study 19th century farm buildings an properties. The information is to be used to correctly restore the Andrew Peterson farmstead. The $1000 scholorship paid for airfare and renting a car for two weeks. The four weeks off needed for the trip was granted by the CCHS board as part of the move from sick time and vacation time to PTO.  So many people have asked to follow my journey, that it was decided to use this forum to keep everyone informed.

Last fall, when I booked my airline ticket to Sweden, it really hit me that I would be gone for four weeks.  Having worked with exchange students for many years, I am fully aware that home sickness is real.  It something that should be planned for accordingly.  With that in mind, I divided my month off into four parts.  This blog post will cover the first week.  My daughter Virginia, her husband Dave, and my son Dain, accompanied me.  We traveled via Iceland Air, and took the airline up on the offer to stop in Iceland for a couple of days, before heading further east.  In Iceland we visited the Viking World center, and the Blue Lagoon and several other places that Iceland is known for.

Swedish freelance writer Lars Sonnergren has been writing about me and my coming trip in an agriculture magazine.  He offered to meet me, which I was excited to do.  The situation however, was that while he had an apartment in Sweden,  he would be with his wife Galina in St. Petersburg when I arrived.  So, we changed our airline travels to include, after a change of planes in Stockholm, a visit to St. Petersburg to meet Lars and Galina.  Galina and Lars were fabulous hosts, showing us around town. On the second day, Lars and I spent some quality time alone.  He showed me the Hermitage, then we sat down for lunch and discussed the Peterson Farmstead. He helped me with some of the difficult Peterson diary words and answered some questions I had.  Topics that were discussed included what the Swedish word “korn” meant. American corn or something else?  We also discussed Peterson’s mention in his diary of painting the roof of the barn after it was installed, if the north barn corners should be painted white, and the different harvesting methods mentiond in the diary.  More details about the discussion will be mentioned in follow up bolgs after I return.

After St. Petersburg, we returned to Stockholm. While the kids were with me, we took a Viking history tour of Viking Rune Stones.  The next day they left, and  I met with Lena Palmqvist at the Nordic Musuem and visited Skansen, the world’s first open air musuem.

The details of my conversations and observations will be forthcoming, but for now I think it is best to say that it could be very correctly stated that what has been learned is that Peterson was a Swede, who imigrated to the US, and as the years passed he became an American whos heritge was Swedish.  This can be observed not only in the way his writing and use of words changes over the years, but in how he builds the buildings on his farm, the change in the colors he uses on buildings, the change in floor plan style- from Swedish style to Yankee, his desire to fight in the Civil War, and yes, even in his use of the word korn.

Over the next week, I will be visiting Birka, the first Viking Settlement and a World Heritage Site,  spending time in Uppsala at the fabulous museums there, spending time with a old time farmer west of Uppsala, visiting the Fallun copper mines and Dala shop, and the open air musuem Valby.

Pictures and more details will be forth coming, especially regarding the conversations with Lena and Lars.

for now




Six days and counting

Six days and counting before I leave on my month long trip to study 19th century Swedish farms.  So many people have asked to follow the trip, that I decided to share photos and comments here.

The trip evolved as a result of the CCHS moving from vacation time/ sick time to PTO,  following the county’s lead.  Since I had used maybe 5 sick days in 10 years, I had about 6 weeks of PTO to use.  About that time, the American Swedish Institute announced they were accepting applications for the Lilly Lorenzen Scholarship.  The scholarship  is designed for adults to study a topic in Sweden.  I applied asking to study 19th century Swedish farms, to be applied to the newly acquired Andrew Peterson Farmstead.  I was awarded $1000 last summer, and the CCHS board approved my sabbatical.  Per the ASI requirements, travel has to be completed by the end of June 2017.  The award paid for my airfare and much of the rental car, but the rest of the trip is on my own. Just over two weeks of my trip will consist of study time, the remainder will be visiting people I know and making the connections we need for the Peterson farm in Carver County.

My trip will be broken into 4 segments.  Below, is segment number one.

May 16th, I leave with my son, daughter, and son-in-law.  We will be stopping in Iceland and spending several days there before resuming our trip to Stockholm.  Arriving in Stockholm on Friday the 19th, we will transfer to a plane that will take us to St. Petersburg.  There, I will meet Lars Sonnegren and his wife Galina.  Lars is the freelance writer from Sweden who has been writing about me in Kvallsstunden in Sweden. By clicking on the following link you can see one of the articles. Kvallsstunden His wife lives in St. Petersburg, and they invited us to visit them in St. Petersburg for the weekend.  They plan to show us the Hermitage and the Faberge museums. We return to Stockholm on Monday and will visit the Vasa, Skansen, and whatever other places my daughter has lined up.  My family will return to the U.S. on the 24th, and I will begin week two.

Stay tuned for photos, starting next week as Wi-Fi allows, of week one.

Wendy Petersen Biorn  Executive Director  Carver County Historical Society




House passes Legacy bill, Swedish Council of America awards CCHS grant, and a new lawn tractor from MVEC

Swedish Council of America Awards CCHS a grant to publish Peterson’s diaries.

The CCHS is proud to announce that it has received a $2000 grant to publish its English translation of the Andrew Peterson diaries. This grant has been awarded by the Swedish Council of America.  The expected time for publication is 9 to 12 months.

This grant was pursued as result of numerous requests to purchase copies of the translated diary and to make the diaries more accessible to the public.  The diaries are being translated by Mathilda Fromentine a native of Sweden, who recently completed her studies at the U of M. Due to the use of Swenglish, a combination of old Swedish and English by Peterson, other sources will also be consulted to ensure accuracy.

Minnesota House approves a $250,000 grant to CCHS for Farm restoration work. Now, onto the Senate.

As the north barn moves closer to completion, the CCHS has been looking at how to fund the work on the other farm buildings. Following the Historic Structure Report we will begin a three year capitol fundraising campaign per the agreement with the Jeffris Family Foundation. They will give us $1 for every $2 we raise, and will donate up to $1M. In our discussion with them, they recommended finding a large donor for 1/3 of the total amount needed to be raised. Funds need to be received or committed to, but cannot be used until the end of the fund drive.

Most of us can’t or don’t know anyone who can give away $250,000.  Enter Representative Jim Nash.  Representative Nash offered to sponsor a bill to help fund the restoration of the farm buildings.  The bill he wrote was for $750,000 and was co-sponsored by Representative Joe Hoppe.  I was called down to testify before the Legacy committee.  One of the questions asked, was why we weren’t going though the traditional grant process.  The answer is quite simple.  Grants need to be completed within one  year.  The campaign was three years, making any grant not eligible for matching funds, remember we can’t spend funds until the campaign ends. Grants are also not a guaranteed source of income. If we were to include potential grant funds in our goal, and the grant was not approved we would lose ALL the Jeffris donation funds, since we missed the fund goal.  The campaign will begin this summer and end the summer of 2020.

Bill 1351 was passed in the amount of $125,000 each year for a total of $250,000. If this passes the House, Jeffris would add $125,000 to it for a total of $375,000.

Please contact your Senators and tell them you support Bill 1351 for the CCHS and the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead.  All funds must and will be used to restore the buildings as agreed to per Legacy and the Jeffris Family Foundation.

New Lawnmower- thanks Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative- Operation Round-up

In early 2017, the CCHS received a grant from Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round-Up, for $2200. The money was used to  purchase of a 2017 Cub Cadet XT1 54” deck lawn tractor for use at the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead. The tractor was purchased from Waconia UFC Farm Supply. Thank you to both organizations for their support!

photo of lawn mower

Historic Structures Report Nearing Completion of House Inspection

MacDonald & Mack is nearing completion of the inspection of the Peterson Farmstead’s house.  We have learned that the house is log at its core and that the color of the house was originally a blue grey.  As the property nears the 80% report completion stage, the document will be sent to the Jeffris Family Foundation for inspection.  It will also be sent to the State Historic Preservation Office for their review.  The document will be come the CCHS’s primary source for future conservation/restoration work.

The shingles have been installed, a Structure Report update and Walpurgis Night!

The north barn has its shingles!  See the photo below.  This is one step closer to having the barn completed.  What is left is: the windows to be installed, the building painted, and another layer of wood flooring to be installed. Then, we are finally done, and can move onto the other buildings.  Did I tell you that we found extra original panes of glass in the granary, which were used in the barn windows.

The Historic Structure Report is still being compiled by MacDonald & Mack.  It should be done in June.  What we have learned so far, is that the house is made of a  log building core.  We have also learned that the original color of the house was grey.  There was white wash below the grey and around the window frames, but the white wash would have been use for a temporary color.  We are still planning to restore the buildings to 1885 when it was photographed, which means grey.  The two porches (now enclosed) will be opened up to mirror the photos of 1885.  A post from the original south porch, was found in one of the barns.  The accent color appears to be red, but MacDonald & Mack is still working to define the color.

In Sweden, Walpurgis Night, traditionally on April 30th, marks the official end of winter.  The day is also the traditional day to remove winter debris and ready properties for new plant growth, and the summer.  Traditionally, the day is marked by an evening of bonfires and music.

We could use your help on Saturday April 1st, as we follow some of the Walpurgis Night tradition.

This Saturday, April 1st, between 10 am and 1 pm, we are inviting everyone to help us ready the Peterson farm for summer events.  We will be picking up branches, twigs, and cleaning up the flower gardens in preparation for summer events, and planting.  Please bring, garden gloves, rakes, or other gardening tools.


The North Barn finally with a new roof!  Thank you Minnesota Legacy grant!  See below for what we started with.

North barn2

Donation for Historic Structures Report received from The Carver County Foundation

The Carver County Foundation has notified us that they are awarding us $500 to be applied to the Historic Structure Report.   It is with our greatest appreciation we thank the Foundation for their generous gift.  The Historic Structure Report, being conducted by MacDonald & Mack is an all inclusive primary planning document that will be used for building restoration work at the farm.  It will tell us everything from what color the house originally was, cost of restoration work,  to outlining a long range plan of attack for restoring the buildings. In short, it will be our road map for many years to come.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed funds for this very important document.

Archaeologist, Joseph Pnewski, discusses the dig, at the farm.

Joe presented a wonderful discussion about the archaeology dig at the Andrew Peterson farm.  His presentation can bee seen on the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead, Facebook page.

The archaeology study is one part of several, which we will use for long range restoration and interpretive planning, for the farm.

Farmstead Archaeologist to Speak at Annual Meeting, January 22

Archaeologist, Joseph Pnewski, will be speaking at the CCHS Annual Meeting, Sunday January 22, at 1 PM. The meeting will be held at the CCHS building located at 555 West First Street, Waconia.

Joe oversaw the archaeology study at the Peterson farm last summer.  The project was part of the County wide Resilient Communities Project, and Joe’s Master’s Thesis. In their work, they discovered the foundation of a building and where a fence line was located.  The Annual Meeting is open to members and nonmembers alike and there is no fee.

Looking forward to seeing everyone!